'Tis The (Iced Coffee) Season

'Tis The (Iced Coffee) Season

 Iced coffee on a wooden table in the sunshine

Summer in Michigan is lovely—the greenery! The long days!—but can be oppressive, unless you really enjoy humidity and mosquitoes. Consecutive days of 90 degree weather take their toll, and it’s enough to have any right minded individual dreaming of a long weekend at the lake, or at the very least a small thunderstorm.

We spend the winter longing for sunshine, and the summer trying to figure out how to stay cool. Luckily, Mighty Good Coffee is here to show you how.

Iced coffee is the best. No matter the form it takes—cold brew, iced latte, nitro, or an espresso cocktail—it is refreshing, delicious and provides that much-needed caffeinated kick to get you through the hot summer day.

At Mighty Good, we have an extensive range of drinks for you to sample (depending on location). Here’s the lowdown:

COLD BREW

 A glass of nitro cold brew on a long wooden table

The original. The best. This dark-roast Brazil is steeped overnight to bring out the deep, rich flavors for which our cold brew is known. The resulting concentrate is then cut with water or milk (or try chocolate milk for a decadent treat) and then served over ice. Available in 16 oz servings at all our locations, or find ready-to-drink bottles at Plum Market, Busch’s and various other grocery stores around South-east Michigan (as well as our cafes).

Main Street also serves 12 oz glasses of Ethiopia Sidamo cold brew, essentially blueberry sorbet in coffee form, served uncut.

NITRO COLD BREW

Double Black blend (previously Black Diamond) is brewed like cold brew, then infused with nitrogen and kegged, producing a smooth, silky drink reminiscent of a stout or Guinness. Served right out of the tap (no ice or milk needed) in a 12 oz size at Main Street and Arbor Hills. This is the only one of our iced drinks not available as decaf—everything else can be deliciously decaffeinated upon request.

ICED LATTES

 A glass of espresso tonic on a wooden table in the foreground, with a city scene in the background

All our lattes, made with Calder Dairy milk and Espresso #46, are available iced. Brown Sugar Sea Salt, Lavender Honey or Cocoa Latte—they’re equally marvelous cold. These are served in 16 oz sizes and available at all our locations.

ESPRESSO TONIC

Like a gin and tonic, except without the alcohol and with, y’know, coffee. A cool, bubbly, invigorating summer drink—a shot of Espresso #46 is poured onto Top Note tonic and served on ice. Available in a 12 oz size at each Mighty Good cafe.

ICED AMERICANO

 A man makes an iced pourover while leaning on the counter

An Americano, but iced. It really is that easy. Espresso #46 in cold, filtered water, with ice—a cool, crisp caffeine infusion. Try one at any of our locations in a 16 oz size.

JAPANESE ICED POUR-OVER

Want to try one of our coffees iced? We can do that, using this incredible iced pour-over method popularized in Japan. Replacing half of the water with ice, this method produces a delicate cup that’s flash-iced to preserve the unique flavor characteristics of the particular coffee. Especially suited to our Black Label range—we recommend the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Worka Fair Trade Organic. Available at Main Street and Arbor Hills in a 16 oz size.

ICED TEA

With help from our friends at Arbor Teas, we have three iced options for the summery tea lovers out there: a black Assam, green Jasmine and, for those looking to avoid caffeine, an herbal Chamomile Mint. Available in a 16 oz size at all our locations (or try the Peach Rooibos exclusively at the Jefferson Market).

 A milkshake sits on a table in the sun

AFFOGATO

A scoop of Calder Dairy vanilla ice cream, topped with a shot of our Espresso #46—it’s the perfect post-panini dessert at Arbor Hills.

ESPRESSO MILKSHAKE

Oh yes. Calder Dairy vanilla ice cream, milk and Espresso #46 are blended together to make a luxurious, velvety treat with a kick. This one is also only available at our Arbor Hills cafe—come on by and try them out!

 

So stop in, grab an iced pick-me-up and beat the heat. At Main Street, Arbor Hills, South University or the Jefferson Market, we’ve got your summer covered.

Mighty Good Partnerships

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We can't do it all alone. Fostering a sense of community is important to everyone, and small businesses are no different.

At Mighty Good, we have learned to focus on what we do best: roast and brew delicious coffee (and cook delicious meals at the Jefferson Market). Then we seek out like-minded people to help us source and deliver the other elements.

As a result, over the years we've developed our own community of suppliers who work with us to bring you perfect pastries, unique teas, fresh produce, and the oh-so-important Brown Sugar Sea Salt latte.

We hope you will join us in supporting some of those key partners, listed below, as we all work hard to bring you great food and beverages at all the Mighty Good Coffee locations:

Avalon International Breads

Since 1997, Avalon Bakery has been providing the people of Detroit with wholesome, nutritious loaves of bread. We had been working with Avalon occasionally over the years, but our partnership was truly cemented when plans were put in place for opening several new locations in Detroit, Ann Arbor and in the Delta terminal at Metro Airport.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned a lot from working with their staff at every level and benefit daily from these relationships that build each other up and create a stronger community for us all.  

We get a daily delivery of a variety of delicious Avalon pastries - croissants, muffins and cookies - for our customers to pair with their morning coffee.

Calder Dairy

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Where to begin with Calder Dairy? They've been in business since 1946, and we've been using them since our very first cafe opened on Main Street. Crates of whole, skim and chocolate milk, not forgetting the half and half, are delivered weekly to all our locations, which we then steam and pour atop espresso to form lattes, cappuccinos and our ever-popular cocoa drinks (seriously, if you haven't yet you should definitely stop in and try a Sea Salt Cocoa Latte).

During the summer, Calder also supplies us with ice cream, which we use to make affogatos (espresso poured over ice cream) and our Espresso Milkshake - the perfect summer treat.

Boochy Mama

Boochy Mama is the brainchild of Stacy Jurich, Toledo native and sister of our general manager, Nick. She learned to make kombucha while living in Hawaii in 2010, and, once back in Toledo, Boochy Mama grew organically from there.

With an always-updating lineup of flavors that change with the seasons -  from Winterland Bliss (Balsam fir, peppermint, and sage) to Pedal Power (strawberry and elderflower), Boochy Mama has become an important part of our grab-and-go refrigerator lineup.

Tasty Bakery

It can be tricky for those with a gluten intolerance to find healthy (as well as palatable) snacks and treats. Most are highly processed, made with unnatural ingredients, or just plain don't taste that good.

Started by Julie Rabinovitz in 2009 after she was diagnosed with Celiac disease, Tasty Bakery aims to change all that - offering simple, nutritious, gluten free snacks to the good people of Ann Arbor.

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At Mighty Good, we want to encourage everyone to stop in and enjoy our cafes, no matter what their dietary restrictions, so we're delighted to offer Tasty's gluten free (and vegan!) granola bars, brownies and cookies at all our cafes.

Arbor Teas

Another Ann Arbor business with whom we have forged close ties over the years, Arbor Teas sources and sells the best quality organic and sustainable tea from all around the world. Tea and coffee have much in common, from seasonality to growing conditions to social impact - all things that Arbor Teas, like us, takes extremely seriously.

Our popular Chai Latte is anchored by an Arbor Teas Fair Trade organic Masala Chai base, brewed and mixed with honey and then steamed with your choice of milk - it's also equally delicious iced.

Bear Creek Bars

Bear Creek Farm in Marshall, Michigan, produces various items in its on-site commercial kitchen, but our favorites are their energy bars - two of which, the Go Bar and the Green Bar, we sell in our cafes. Packed with protein and a healthy serving of nuts, these bars will keep you going on even the busiest of days.

Bear Creek also makes juices and granola, as well as selling produce from their farm stand and at various farmers markets around their locality.

Argus Farm Stop

Speaking of which. What if you want to visit your local farmers market and stock up on vegetables, but it's the middle of winter? Previously, you'd be forced to head to the nearest Meijer and call it good. But Ann Arbor now has an alternative: Argus Farm Stop. A year-round market where you can buy local produce from local farmers, Argus has two Stops: the original on W. Liberty, and a second location on Packard.

Mighty Good cold brew, bagged coffee and Jefferson Market soups & salads (at the Packard location) line the shelves, alongside other Michigan-made products and, of course, the freshest local veggies. It's a sustainable, affordable, and delightful way to buy your groceries.

Matty J's Bakery And Cafe

Founded in 2017, Matty J's is a bakery and cafe just down the road in Saline, and one of our newer partners. Matty J's provides the Jefferson Market with bread throughout the week, with which we craft our ever-changing lineup of inventive sandwiches.

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As well as baking delicious bread, Matty J's brews up Mighty Good coffee using a beautiful purple La Marzocco Linea - make sure to grab a cup (and a cookie) next time you're in Saline.

Grazing Fields Eggs

Grazing Fields is an established Michigan, multi-farm cooperative and wholesaler of natural free-range brown eggs and non-GMO pork products. We use their wholesome and brightly yolked eggs in our brunch items every weekend during Saturday and Sunday service at The Jefferson Market.

Frog Holler Produce

At the Jefferson Market, we want to make sure we're using the freshest (and local-est) fruit and vegetables in our salads and sandwiches, and in our weekend brunch items. This is where Frog Holler comes in - with more than 40 years of experience sourcing the best produce in the area, we know we can rely on them to keep us fully stocked.

Fresh, seasonal, and of the highest quality at all times, the produce they provide us with makes its way to you in the form of, for example, our Sunflower Salad: spring greens, asparagus, snap peas, sunflowers shoots & seeds, pea tendrils in a sunflower-orange vinaigrette. It's as good as it sounds.

Mighty Good Coffee & Cinetopia Film Festival 2018

Mighty Good Coffee & Cinetopia Film Festival 2018

 Photo courtesy of  Cinetopia

Photo courtesy of Cinetopia

Cinetopia Film Festival takes place May 31st through June 10th, 2018

Being part of our local community is integral to Mighty Good Coffee's culture. In fact, it's right there in the Philosophy section of our website:

"We believe that being involved in our community is one of the best ways to build community. Over the years, we’ve been involved in a variety of projects, events and other local grass roots causes intent on keeping the local flavor of Ann Arbor strong."

To this end, we are always looking for opportunities to get involved in local initiatives, partnerships, fundraisings and sponsorships.

This year we have combined all these into one with our collaboration with Cinetopia Film Festival, the goal of which is to bring the best films from the world's best film festivals to the good people of Southeast Michigan. 

Since 2012, Cinetopia has brought films from festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, Berlin and SXSW to Ann Arbor and Detroit, along with special guest appearances from the actors, directors, producers and writers behind some of these films. Aside from all that movie-based goodness, there are also events, parties and educational programming to ensure you get the most out of each year's festival. 

From May 31st through June 10th, the Michigan and State Theatres, as well as venues all across Detroit (the Henry Ford's IMAX screen is always one to seek out), will be hosting a variety of films, from documentaries to comedies, foreign language action films to local indie favorites. 

We've always been big fans of Cinetopia here at Mighty Good Coffee, so when the opportunity to get involved more deeply presented itself, we couldn't say no. To that end, we'll be sponsoring two films directly, as well as offering a coupon to all pass-holders to get money off a Mighty Good drink or Jefferson Market meal during the festival. 

The first film we will be sponsoring is Nico, 1988. Written and directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli and starring Trine Dyrholm, the film tells the story of the former Velvet Underground singer's life after her fame has peaked.

From the Cinetopia website: "Struggling with her demons and the consequences of a muddled life, she longs to rebuild a relationship with her son, whose custody she lost long ago. A brave and uncompromising musician, Nico’s story is the story of a rebirth: of an artist, of a mother, of the woman behind the icon." Nico, 1988 plays Friday June 1st, Saturday June 2nd and Thursday June 7th at the State Theatre. Buy tickets here.

Our very own Nic Sims will be introducing the film on Friday, June 1st - showtime 6.15. Buy tickets for that show here.

 Photo courtesy of  Cinetopia

Photo courtesy of Cinetopia

The second film we will be presenting is Never Goin' Back, the debut feature from writer-director Augustine Frizzell. The plot concerns two teenage high school dropouts who make ends meet working dead-end jobs at the same diner.

The Cinetopia website takes up the story: "Their dream vacation to sunny Galveston, Texas, is only a few shifts away. But after a drug deal goes bad and their home is invaded—and they have to serve a short stint in juvenile detention—their beach trip is in serious jeopardy. They’ll have to use every bit of guile their perpetually buzzed teenage brains can muster as they try to get (relatively) rich quick while wandering suburban Dallas." Never Goin' Back plays Friday, June 1st at the State and Friday, June 8th at College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Buy tickets here.

We're also offering a deal to passholders throughout the festival, to help you recharge and recaffeinate between movies. Passes of any kind (be it VIP All Access, movie-only, or student) will get a coupon for $1 off specialty lattes, $.50 off drip coffee, and $1 off meals at the Jefferson Market. Passes can be purchased here.

We're all really excited for next week's big festival kickoff, and hope to see you during the festival, either at the films or at one of our cafes

#becausecoffee #Cinetopia2018

New Coffee: Finca Las Margaritas, Colombia

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We are delighted to finally be in possession of this particular coffee, Finca Las Margaritas, our favorite from our trip to Colombia back in December. We've had to wait a little while for the coffee to be fully harvested, processed and shipped to the United States, and then to make its way to our roastery, but as of last week it is available in all our cafes, online and in stores.

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In December, we visited Finca Las Margaritas, in Vereda San Bartolo, Jardin. We met with Dona Lourdes Restrepo, who showed us around the farm and explained in great detail her family’s coffee growing philosophy. In a letter, Dona Lourdes describes how, as a third generation owner, she felt a strong connection to the land and a responsibility to carry on her forebears' work:

"Our ancestors were farmers, and not only have these lands been passed from generation to generation, but also their customs, their good examples, and above all the responsibility and effort this work always demands."

Dona Lourdes attended the government sponsored coffee agronomy program at SENA, which empowered her to develop the necessary skills to continually improve the cultivation methods and quality of the coffee she grows each year. As she says in her letter:

"The world is dynamic and changing, and the consumer ... has a lot of technology and a lot of knowledge, [so] we have to be at the forefront."

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Las Margaritas has a productive area of 6 hectares, which amounts to 25,000 trees, divided and planted with varieties such as Caturro as well as 2000 and F6 (the latter two both coffee rust resistant varieties). A farm manager, Diego, oversees upwards of 15 employees during the peak season. In order to cut down on the intensive labor involved in transporting the coffee beans across the valley which separates the fields from the farm, they have installed an electric cable car to move the picked beans more easily.

Las Margaritas uses a number of ornamental and fruit trees, both as shade crops and to diversify their output—they received 500 such trees as part of a government-backed program to reduce farmers’ reliance on coffee as a single income source, as well as to promote best agronomic practices.

Banana and plantain trees are especially popular in the region, as the farmer merely has to tend to and harvest the fruit, which is then left at the side of the road where they are taken to market by a third party, thus leaving the family more time to focus their resources on coffee. Las Margaritas also uses native plants and trees to provide shade, which serves to encourage birds and other insects as a natural solution to pests.

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In order to accentuate the clean, slightly fruity nature of this particular coffee, we decided to roast a little lighter than we would normally with a Colombian coffee. In doing so, we wanted to draw out the inherent sweetness, and highlight the beautifully subtle cherry notes that we first pinpointed during our visit. 

Overall, this is a wonderfully smooth, sweet and nuanced coffee that gains complexity as it cools, and warrants brewing via several different methods in order to be fully appreciated.

We are big fans here at Mighty Good, and we think you will be too. 

 

Buy a bag here

Specialty Coffee Expo, Seattle 2018

Specialty Coffee Expo, Seattle 2018

 Photo by Cara McDonough

Photo by Cara McDonough

Every year, the specialty coffee industry comes together over a long weekend to learn, talk, engage, and network with others from across the country (and sometimes the world). Alternating between the east and west coast, this year's event took place April 19-22 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA. 

Hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association, the event offers opportunities for a whole range of coffee professionals, from baristas to roasters, business owners to green coffee buyers. Mighty Good has been privileged to attend the Expo for the past seven years, bringing back the knowledge and insights gained to further improve our coffee roasting, brewing and serving. 

The Expo consists of various classes for industry professionals to increase their knowledge, ranging from introductory courses on coffee processing to advanced barista certifications. Alongside all this are the finals of various coffee competitions, including the US Barista Championship and the US Brewers Cup, the winners of which go on to represent the United States at the world championships in Amsterdam.

There is also the celebrated Re:co Symposium, where the most influential minds in coffee science and research gather to discuss the state of coffee; topics this year included The State and Future of the Coffee Economy and Changing Tides: Building Diverse and Inclusive Coffee Communities

Attending such events, much like the Roasters Guild retreats and trips to origin, are a way for Mighty Good to stay connected to the wider coffee world, to make new connections and learn new skills, that we can then bring back to our customers in Ann Arbor. 

This year, alongside owners David and Nic, the Mighty Good delegation included Arbor Hills cafe manager Seth Taylor, barista Cara McDonough and production team member Trent Lytle.

Below they have shared some of their experiences.

DavidExpo was full of exciting new ventures for me. There’s something new to learn each year and it’s also a great time to see people face to face.
As part of the newly united Coffee Roasters Guild Advisory Council, which joined the US and EU Roasters Guilds, we rolled out all our new branding and plans for the coming year. I will also be joining the Specialty Coffee Association Board as the representative from the Coffee Roasters Guild.
I also spent quite a bit of time teaching as I do each year. I had the opportunity to teach with Anne Cooper (Australia) and Rob Hoos (Portland), both at the forefront of roasting techniques and research on roasting systems.Their passion for coffee and roasting seems to know no bounds.  It’s always inspiring to work with them.

 

TrentI attended the new class 'Can You Taste the Roasting System?' The teachers did a great job at dispelling the myth that you can taste the difference between coffee roasters. I learned about roast profile matching and a new cupping technique to help measure consistency between batches. 
NicOne of the most interesting events I attended was a breakfast hosted by the International Women in Coffee Alliance where I listened to reports from the El Salvador and Rwanda chapters where there is significant and exciting investment in helping develop women-owned farms. 
In general, it was thrilling to see so many women in attendance this year, representing the gamut from farmers and vendors to roasters and retailers.

(You can read more about the Women in Coffee Alliance here: https://www.womenincoffee.org/impact)

Cara: This was my first time at a coffee expo, so it was a little overwhelming. There's a lot to see and do, so I tried to squeeze in as much as possible. I learned a lot of new tricks and techniques from the class I took there, and really enjoyed representing Mighty Good Coffee at the La Marzocco and Synesso booths.
 Photo by Cara McDonough

Photo by Cara McDonough

Seth: Attending the SCA Expo was an invaluable experience. I met people from all over world and from all different areas of the coffee industry. I would be impossible not to come away from such an event without a broadened perspective and a deeper, more thorough understanding of the work we do. It was also very reaffirming to see how well our coffee and our barista skills hold up alongside some of the best in the industry. 

Needless to say, we're already looking forward to next year.

An Introduction To Coffee Processing

An Introduction To Coffee Processing

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Have you ever wondered how coffee goes from ripe cherries waiting to be picked to those little brown beans that we bag up and send home with you? There’s the roasting process, of course, but the beans still have to get from the trees to our roastery—and that means removing the cherry from around the bean and drying it until it’s ready for export.

There are three main processing methods—washed, natural, and honey or pulp natural—as well as myriad localized variations. You might have seen these terms on our menu—for example, we have two Black Label coffees from Ethiopia right now, one a washed Chelelektu and the other a natural Worka. Occasionally we have a honey processed offering (check out our new Brazil Fazenda Sertaozinho), and our Sumatra Suku Batak is a giling basah or semi-washed, but in general our coffees are either washed or natural processed.

(To confuse things further, over the years the terms and methods have become intermingled, with variants on honey process (black honey, red honey and yellow honey) becoming common, as well as other terms such as “wet-hulled”, “semi dry” and “sun dried”.)

In order to hopefully clear things up, here’s a (very simplified) rundown on the three main methods, as well as some lesser-known techniques.

Washed

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This method is especially popular in Central America, where water is plentiful and easily available. It involves soaking the beans to soften and remove the cherry—the fermentation stage—and then washing them in water to remove any remaining mucilage (the fruit of the cherry). Some farmers use a depulper to mechanically remove the cherry. The beans are then dried on patios in the sun or in mechanical driers before being prepped for export.

Washed coffees tend to exhibit characteristics reminiscent of their particular terroir: soil, temperature and altitude will all affect the final taste. You’ll tend to find cleaner, lighter tasting notes—citrus, tea, subtle chocolate—compared with a natural coffee. Our Guatemala Huehuetenango is a perfect example of a washed coffee: a clean, balanced cup, notes of dark honey and cinnamon with a subtle brightness.

Natural

Natural process is a simple and cost-effective technique, and is probably the oldest method of coffee processing. It is also, by its nature, the most environmentally friendly. It involves drying the bean inside the coffee cherry, either on a patio (turning every so often to ensure uniform drying), or in a mechanical drier. The dried cherry is then removed from the bean using a hulling machine.

Because the cherry is dried around the bean, natural process coffees tend towards the earthy, fruity flavor profiles. For example, the main reason our Ethiopia Sidamo tastes like a blueberry muffin is because of this natural process. Another natural, our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Worka Fair Trade Organic, shows off the versatility of this method, with notes of strawberry and candied orange peel to add to a deliciously earthy complexity.

You’ll find mellower, full-bodied coffees using this method, but there is still a lot of room for nuance. In fact, natural's growing popularity has led some farmers in countries more famous for their washed coffees (Guatemala and El Salvador for example) to experiment with the natural process. In essence, this pragmatic approach helps them expand their offerings while at the same time lending an advantage in the increasingly competitive specialty coffee market.

Honey / Pulped Natural / Semi-washed (Giling Basah)

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This can simply be described as a cross between washed and natural process. Of course the reality is more complex, but then everything in coffee farming is complex. Honey process (so called because the resulting brew is said to taste like honey) is achieved by de-pulping the coffee cherries soon after harvesting, then drying the beans with the remaining mucilage still attached. This tends to impart some of the depth and fruitiness of the natural process, but with the brightness and nuance of a washed.

The terminology used to describe these methods, which can vary from region to region and even farm to farm, leaves a lot of room for confusion. The process itself—based on the amount of cherry removed, drying time and how much water is involved—also varies based on tradition, preference or just available machinery. Pulped natural and Semi-washed are different terms for essentially the same processing method, but with varying amounts of the cherry removed before drying.

As for our coffees, just this week, we took delivery of a pulped natural Brazil Fazenda Sertaozinho, which is in the process of being tested and tasted before it goes out to our cafes. We are very excited for this particular coffee.

Our Sumatra Suku Batak is another good example of (one version of) the process, called giling basah in Indonesia: bold, earthy and spicy with a heavy body and syrupy mouthfeel.

This is a very basic introduction to coffee processing, and as with everything else in the coffee industry there is a lot more to learn. At the very least, we hope this little guide will give you more of an insight into why the coffee you’re drinking tastes the way it does.

A Mighty Good Education

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Education has always been at the forefront of what we do here at Mighty Good Coffee. It was one of the reasons for the company's founding—to bring the world of specialty coffee to the people of Ann Arbor—and it continues to be the bedrock of our mission to this day. The Philosophy & Mission section of our website states:

WE believe in the perfect marriage of craft and science as expressed in our roasting and drink making processes.

WE believe we can continually improve and enhance the quality of our roasting, brewing, and customer service.

WE believe in connecting with and supporting other local businesses to enhance our community.

WE believe great coffee can be served without pretense.

WE believe in empowering our employees’ professional and personal growth.

WE believe in connecting with people beyond a single transaction.

Our commitment to education is threefold: 

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We train our baristas comprehensively, ensuring that the coffee we serve (as well as the service we offer) is as good as it possibly can be. The training process for new baristas is rigorous, from brew methods to espresso training to customer service. After this training, we pride ourselves on supporting our staff in their wider coffee education, subsidizing outside training and certification programs to help them grow as people and as coffee experts. For example, we have sent our production staff to the Roasters Guild retreat on numerous occasions, so that they can learn from the best in the business and bring that knowledge back to our roastery. 

Secondly, our dedication to education reaches beyond Mighty Good's four locations. We train the staff of our cafe clients, to make sure they're giving the same quality service and skill in drink preparation that you would find at a native Mighty Good cafe. This training is continuous: we host monthly training sessions for wholesale clients, so anyone who needs it can brush up on their brewing skills or latte art. We believe this connection is integral to our wholesale relationships, and we're always happy to welcome new partnerships.

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The third facet of our education philosophy is in the interactions we have with our customers. On a day to day basis, we aim to give the people who walk through our doors an experience they wouldn't get elsewhere. Aside from offering delicious coffee, we want our customers to learn something new—whether it's a tip about grinding coffee, or a piece of trivia about the coffee's origin—so they can feel a connection to the coffee they're drinking. 

This is one of the reasons we launched the Coffee With Benefits loyalty program: to encourage an exploration of and conversation about our coffee offerings. To go with that, we've started a series of events in order to further explore and give insight to our company and how we go about serving you coffee. We've done a roastery tour—a look behind the curtain at the methods and tools we use to turn green beans brown. We've done an intro to brewing class, where we show you our manual brew techniques to better understand how we make your coffee every day. In the future we plan to host a home barista class, as well as new coffee cuppings and much more. 

Hopefully, you'll learn something new every time you visit one of our cafes. And if you want to learn even more, sign up for our newsletter to get priority access to all our events (and other stuff as well). 

Sensory Summit, UC Davis, January 25-27 2018.

Sensory Summit, UC Davis, January 25-27 2018.

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Every year in January, the UC Davis campus outside of Sacramento, California, hosts a unique event on the coffee calendar. Sensory Summit is a two-day conference “designed to educate, inform, and inspire the Specialty Coffee sensory professional”, according to their website. The goal is to combine scientific rigor with coffee’s inherent subjectiveness in order to better understand the biological underpinnings of the brewing process, as well as the coffee bean itself.

The summit is, at its core, an attempt to comprehend the phenomenon of taste and how it relates to coffee, and to develop the sensory skills of those in the specialty coffee industry. Mighty Good has been privileged to attend the past two conferences (the Summit began in 2016). Over the course of a weekend, we moved from discussions on fermentation in cheese to an exploration of ingredients and flavor in beer, with lectures and talks from academics and scientists, wine experts and coffee roasters.

The UC Davis Coffee Center is the first research department to focus exclusively on the scientific study of coffee. With support from La Marzocco, Probat, Peet’s and the appliance manufacturer Wilbur Curtis, the Center is a pioneering force in coffee research as the industry attempts to improve coffee’s prospects in the longer term. Eventually, the Center hopes to include a pilot roastery, a cupping and sensory lab, a green storage research facility, and a coffee greenhouse.

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This year, the event started with  tasty samples from Winters Cheese while discussing the effects of fermentation on the flavor of cheese. It was an incredible variety from mild goats milk to a gouda with a wine-washed rind. As coffee is also a fermented product, we explored this again the next day when Dr. Rosane Schwan from the University of Lavras in Brazil presented coffees that used a variety of fermentation techniques, including adding yeast to the coffee in production to facilitate microbial activity. No surprise, when we tasted this coffee compared to several other techniques, it tasted fantastic.

A presentation on product design and consumer sensory experience was hosted by Richard Harrod, a senior designer at Breville based in Sydney. Exploring the design of their home espresso machines from napkin sketch to finished product was an insight into the incredibly complex world of manufacturing a product for the world-wide market.

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Another fascinating topic was the extraction of coffee and flavor depending on the shape of the filter basket and what type of filter is used. When Dr. Bill Ristenpart described freezing the spent coffee and filter and then taking core samples (just like they do of the earth) to examine which part of the coffee was most or least extracted depending on the filter used, you can get a sense of how serious these coffee scientists are.

Further activities included exploring the variety of grains and hops used in beer production (another fermented product) changing weather patterns and global warming are affecting tea production from China to South Carolina. How this affects coffee production is fast becoming an important topic as well.

All in all, it was another fantastic event focused on bringing diversity, ingenuity and innovation to the subject of coffee research. How we approach the study of coffee today will impact how it is grown, harvested and brewed in the future, something that will have an effect on all of our enjoyment of this most delicious of beverages.

New Coffee: Two Black Labels, And A Returning Favorite

New Coffee: Two Black Labels, And A Returning Favorite

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It's that time of year again, when we welcome our new batch of Black Label coffees from Ethiopia. When looking to source Ethiopians, we always try to select a natural and a washed coffee, to highlight the different processing methods that make Ethiopia such a special country of origin.

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First up, we have the washed Yirgacheffe Idido, replacing our Shakisso Farm Black Label. This Fair Trade Organic coffee comes from the Edido Cooperative in Gedeo Zone, in the south of the country. The Edido Cooperative, founded in 1975, is made up of family owned farms in the region and currently numbers 1,247 members. 

This one is bright and floral, fruity and complex. We got notes of blackberry, tamarind and dried apricot in the cup - a definite winner. 

Complementing the Idido, and replacing the much-loved Chelelektu natural, is the new natural Yirgacheffe Worka FTO. Also from the Gedeo Zone (and also Fair Trade Organic), this coffee comes from the Worka Cooperative, from where it gets its name. A smaller cooperative, Worka has 300 members but is itself a member of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU). This is an umbrella organization established in 2002 to support a sustainable coffee supply from cooperatives in the Gedeo ethnic region of Ethiopia. 

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The YCFCU (to which the Edido Cooperative also belongs) works to improve the lives of the more than 300,000 families in its support network. Some of their endeavors include sending the children of farmers to school, building literal bridges in the community, and much more. You can read about their work here.

Another nuanced and compelling coffee, the natural Worka has notes of strawberry and candied orange peel with a depth and clarity that lasts into the finish. 

In non-Ethiopia-related news, we're delighted to welcome back our stalwart from Guatemala, the Huehuetenango (way-way-teh-nango). Replacing the Finca Los Caballitos, this coffee is sourced from a group of small farms in the Huehuetenango region of western Guatemala. A little bright, a little chocolatey, with a medium body and notes of cinnamon and dark honey. It's a staff (and customer) favorite, and we're happy it's back. 

Pick up a bag of any three coffees at any of our locations, or in our online store

Mighty Good Coffee Origin Trip, Colombia 2017: Part One

Mighty Good Coffee Origin Trip, Colombia 2017: Part One

Here at Mighty Good, we make it a priority to visit origin as often as possible, ever on the lookout for new coffees to bring back to our customers. But it’s also more than that: visiting origin is a way to keep in touch with the people who work incredibly hard to produce the delicious berries that we roast, grind, and brew to make your morning coffee.

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It already seems a long time ago, but just last month (December 2017) we sent a Mighty Good delegation to the sunny climes of Jardin in Antioquia, Colombia, to meet some of our producers and source coffee for the coming year.

Sometimes we visit origin to gain knowledge, as we did in February 2017 when we traveled to Costa Rica to experience, first hand, the effort required to grow coffee on the steep slopes of the Tarrazu valley. We witnessed every step coffee takes along its journey at origin, from experiencing picking the trees ourselves, to delivering the fruit to the mill where it is prepped for export.

The recent Colombia visit was more about cultivating relationships. As a company we have visited Colombia on three occasions, returning each time with new stories of the wonderful experiences we’ve enjoyed with the fantastic people we partner with, and always sampling and sourcing incredible coffees. This time was no different—over the course of four days and six farm visits, we witnessed ingenuity, were graced by our hosts’ hospitality, and were thrilled to continue to support a thriving local coffee-growing community.

In Colombia, we were reminded that “every farm is a family” - we met several third or fourth generation landowners who were working diligently to preserve the family legacy and contribute to the growth and success for future generations. We will be telling some of those stories in blog posts to come.

One of the most interesting differences between our Costa Rican and Colombian trips last year was the differences in the milling process. In Costa Rica, the fruit was harvested and delivered daily to a centralized mill where all the coffee cherries in an area were mixed, then sorted by weight and depulped onsite prior to fermentation in parchment. Pickers are paid for the fruit at the end of each day before it’s collected and delivered to the wet mill each night.

In Colombia it is more segmented: each farm has its own equipment, and farmers actually complete the first part of the milling process on their own property. They depulp, wash, and ferment the beans, then bring the dried parchment to the mill. Each bag is then sampled, sorted, and hand milled immediately in order to determine the quality and price the mill will pay for the final product.

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To further check the quality, each lot is sample roasted and cupped, with the results meticulously recorded. The goal is to nurture open dialogue with the mill and producers in order to keep the standards high and look for opportunities for continual improvement. This way, the farmers remain deeply invested and engaged in driving the quality of their coffee.

In the next post, we’ll take you through our farm visits and introduce you to the farmers who put the work into growing the coffee.

The Mighty Good 2017 Year In Review

The Mighty Good 2017 Year In Review

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As another year comes to a close, a brand new one starts to edge its way hopefully into view. With January right around the corner, this seems like a good time to stop for a second, look back and evaluate 2017 from a Mighty Good Coffee perspective.

It’s been another year of change, a year of growth both commercial and personal, and at its core a year of brewing coffee and serving it to the good people of Ann Arbor. Every year, we strive to do better, to raise the bar for ourselves and our staff, to ask what we can do to improve our level of service.

Of course the most significant action of 2017 was the purchasing of the wonderful Jefferson Market, allowing us to expand our food offerings and reach a whole new community in the old west side. This has been a truly joyous experience for all of us, meeting new people and reuniting with old friends while serving them all delicious brunch. It has had its challenges, as every new venture does, but it has all been worth it. We’re excited to see what 2018 will bring.

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From a coffee perspective, it’s been a year of new and varied offerings arriving outside our back door. The Guatemala Finca Los Caballitos was popular, its brightness and mellow body making it a staff favorite over the last few months. Our Black Label range continued, with two offerings from Ethiopia—the washed Shakisso and natural Chelelektu—proving particularly successful. We’re already searching for the next round of Black Label coffees, which we hope will encourage even more participation in our Coffee With Benefits manual brew loyalty program.   

Speaking of which, in November we launched Coffee With Benefits with the aim of exposing more people to our manual brew menu, and engaging them with different brew methods and coffee options. In 2018, we’re going to be offering more events and classes, which our Coffee With Benefits members will have exclusive or priority access to. As just one example, we’re planning a roastery tour for the end of January, as well as many similar happenings in the months to come.

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Every year, we endeavor to visit origin as often as we can. In February of 2017 we visited the La Minita farm in Costa Rica, and just this month we sent a delegation to Colombia to meet farmers and source our offerings for the coming year. Visiting origin is essential to our company, as it allows us to forge new relationships, rekindle old friendships and locate the best coffee possible to bring back to our customers.

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Mighty Good also takes part in numerous events throughout the coffee world. In January, we attended the second annual Sensory Summit on the campus of UC Davis in California, a symposium which seeks to explore and discuss the scientific side of coffee. The Roasters Guild Retreat in August was an opportunity for education and networking in the coffee roasting community, involving classes and collaborative tastings among some of the country’s top roasters.

We take pride in our engagement and collaboration with the wider coffee community, at events and on origin trips as well as more local gatherings such as latte art throwdowns and fundraisers. These events allow us to connect to the wider world of coffee, hone our skills and knowledge and make new and important connections to help us grow and improve as a business.

In addition to our ongoing community engagement, this year David was elected to the Executive Council of the Roasters Guild, serving as Vice Chair of the Membership Committee. As part of this, he is focused on outreach, expansion, and diversification of the Roasters Guild membership.

It’s been a long year. Our goals for the next one are to take a breath, recoup and go again. We aim to be even better—roast better, brew better, and serve you better. We are endlessly appreciative of all our customers, every drink, every day, and we hope to welcome you into one of our locations in the new year.  

The Mighty Good Gift Guide 2017

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The Mighty Good Gift Guide

2017

Snow is finally falling in Ann Arbor, and that can only mean one thing: the holiday season is upon us once again. Fear not, however, for Mighty Good Coffee is here to assist with your gift buying needs.

Coffee brewing can be a confusing subject, with countless different methods and paraphernalia available for all tastes and levels of interest. To help, we’ve put together gift bundles to encourage everyone to brew the best coffee possible over the holiday season.

In addition, we’ve designed three coffee sample packs to give recipients a taste of what Mighty Good has to offer—these are the perfect gift for those who love coffee but aren’t quite sure which coffee they love most.

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Wake Up

This is the simplest gift we have this year—a bag of Holiday Blend beans and a red, 12oz Mighty Good mug. The Holiday Blend has a warm, syrupy body, with notes of cranberry and a clean bright finish.

Perfect for: lovers of Mighty Good who want to drink their coffee from the same mug we use in our cafes, paired with the ideal coffee for the holiday season.

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Pour-Over Kit

A great starter pack for potential home coffee brewers, this gift pack includes the aforementioned mug and bag of Holiday Blend beans, as well as a ceramic Hario V60 dripper and Hario filters.

The Hario V60 is a simple, versatile brewing device, ideal for making one or two cups at home. It's our go-to manual brew method in all our cafes. You can read a basic brew guide here.

Perfect for: those just starting out in the home-brewing game, or those looking to give their automatic coffee maker a break and try something new.

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World Traveler

Going on vacation? Visiting family for the holidays but staying in a hotel? Camping trip planned for the spring? The World Traveler pack was made for you. It includes a Hario hand grinder, Aeropress coffee maker, Kleen Kanteen travel mug and a bag of Holiday Blend beans.

Freshly grind your beans on the go, brew them simply and quickly with the Aeropress, and keep them warm for up to 8 hours with our Mighty Good branded travel mug.

Perfect for: anyone who's ever arrived in their hotel room to find a sad, one-cup Mr Coffee gathering dust in a corner; anyone who's ever woken up in the Sleep Bear Dunes and realized that they're two hours from the nearest cafe; anyone who loves freshly-made coffee first thing in the morning.

Holiday Samplers

These quarter pound bags are the ideal way to try our coffees, or give a simple gift to friends and family. Each box contains four quarter pound bags compiled around a coffee theme: Signature Blends, Single Origin and Black Label.

Signature Blends

Four quarter pound bags of our most popular blends including Holiday, Almighty, Black Diamond and Smokin’ Joe. A certain crowdpleaser.

Single Origin

Four quarter pound bags from specific origins, including Costa Rica, Ethiopia Sidamo, Brazil and Sumatra. For the explorer.

Black Label

Four quarter pound bags of our top-level coffees, including Ethiopia Shakisso, Ethiopia Chelelektu, El Salvador Finca La Siberia and Guatemala Finca Los Caballitos. The aficionado's choice.

New Coffees For Fall

 New coffees: 2017's Holiday Blend and the Guatemala Finca Los Caballitos

New coffees: 2017's Holiday Blend and the Guatemala Finca Los Caballitos

It’s that time of year again – the days are colder and darker, the nights longer, and the holiday season is right around the corner. With the family all gathered in one place, coffee tastes and preferences are sure to clash. One person’s delicate Aeropress will be at odds with another’s bass-heavy French press. Someone abhors cream in their coffee; another won’t drink it without five sugars. Our goal with 2017’s Holiday Blend is to please them all.

It’s a Mighty Good tradition at this time of year to offer a time-limited, festive blend that both reflects and accentuates the season. It’s in stores now, online and at our cafes too, ready to power you through the festivities to come.

This year, we’ve tweaked the recipe a little to emphasize the spiciness and warmth that the drinker expects in a holiday coffee. The blend consists of a pair of natural and washed Ethiopians — for structure, depth, spiciness and fruity sweetness — combined with a washed Guatemela that adds balance and clarity to the mix.

We want your holiday coffee to excite but not overwhelm, to intrigue without excluding — as with all our blends, we expect our holiday coffee to work in a basic drip coffee maker as well as through a Chemex or Hario V60. We want to brighten up those dark winter mornings, amplify those family gatherings, and make the holiday season as festive and cheerful as possible.

 

Another new coffee, exclusive to our cafes and online store, is the Guatemala Finca Los Caballitos. Los Caballitos is a 300-acre farm located in the municipality of San Gaspar Chajul within the department of Quiche, northern Guatemala. This growing region, which includes the towns of Santa Maria Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal, and San Gaspar Chajul, is also called the Ixil Triangle because of the beautiful landscapes and the preservation of the indigenous culture.

 Photo courtesy of Royal Coffee Importers

Photo courtesy of Royal Coffee Importers

Run by the brothers Oscar and Christian Schaps, who bought the farm in 2005, Los Caballitos has its own wet mill to allow meticulous quality control during processing. Sitting at an average altitude of 1500 meters, Finca Los Caballitos comprises both Caturra and Bourbon varieties. Parchment is transported to Antigua where it is stored and milled for export.

We are very lucky to have been able to buy a few bags before it sold out, and we’ll be stocking it for the next few months.

Flavor-wise, we have been getting a distinctive stone fruit punch right from the off, followed by a caramel-smooth body, a rich sweetness and a drying, baker’s chocolate finish. We’ve taken care to roast this particular coffee to highlight its complexity and subtle brightness, allowing it to shine in any brew method — we even have it as a single origin espresso at our Main Street location, where it is light and sweet, crisp and delicious.

Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter to keep up to date on all the latest happenings, including new coffees, special events and more. Sign up here.

Coffee With Benefits

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Loyalty programs are funny things. At the basic level, they reward repeat visits (or extreme consumption) with something free – in a coffee shop, usually a free drink. Lots of coffee shops have a loyalty program, and in general they’re all quite similar. Buy a certain number of lattes, and get a free latte. This encourages expenditure, but it doesn’t necessarily inspire loyalty. Or at least, the kind of loyalty we like.

The dedication of our customers means a lot to us here at Mighty Good Coffee. There are people who have been visiting us, and drinking our coffee, from the very beginning – word-of-mouth advocacy has long been our principal method of advertizing. We are forever grateful to those who make stopping in for their coffee a daily ritual.

So we’re trying something different. Something that will hopefully expand your coffee boundaries and take you on a tasting journey. Welcome to Coffee With Benefits, a loyalty program with a difference.

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Mighty Good is, at its core, a coffee roasting company. At any one time we have upwards of 10 different coffees on offer, from reliable favorites to one-off, exciting, micro-lot wonders. We want people to explore our coffee selection, to delve into the diversity and mysteriousness of this most wondrous of drinks. There is a genuinely endless variety of coffees to be sampled from all over the world, and we source, roast and bag as many as we can find.

There’s a joy in discovering something new, finding a hidden gem – the first taste of a natural-processed Ethiopia Sidamo, all blueberry-muffin sweetness, can be transformative. We want to spark that joy with this program, allowing the drinker to sample the tastes and textures of each individual coffee, and be rewarded for doing so.

Therefore, we have created a different kind of loyalty program, one that rewards exploration, curiosity and interaction. Here’s how it works: pick up a punch card at any of our locations; then try 10 different coffees – a single origin Guatemala, an Almighty blend, even a shot of Espresso #46 – and we’ll check them off your card. Once it’s filled up, hand it back in to us and we’ll give you an exclusive, one-of-a-kind Coffee With Benefits camping mug.

All you have to do is drink coffee, perhaps try something you wouldn’t normally drink, and we’ll do the rest. We take manual brew coffee very seriously, as it’s the bedrock of our business, and we want to share it with you.

#becausecoffee

Barista Profiles - Nick

It's been almost 5 years since Nick started working at Mighty Good. Back then, we were just one cafe on Main St. with a staff of less than a dozen. He had been back from the Peace Corps for just a few months when he wandered into the shop looking for a job. Despite no coffee experience, his Peace Corps experience was based in Guatemala near the growing of Huehuetenanago and he had experienced coffee farming first hand. He had a real passion for coffee that sparked our interest in having him join our small team. Since then, we've grown to 4 cafes with a few stops on the way (Two Wheel Tango and Mark's Carts). Nick has lead our growing team for the past 4 years, first as the manager of our Main St. location and now as the General Manager of all cafe operations with 35 staff members.

 

Roasting in Georgia

Last week, Jahn, Trent and I flew to Georgia to attend the annual Roaster’s Guild Retreat held at the Lake Lanier Resort and Conference, north of Atlanta. This yearly event focuses on education, community, networking and of course, roasting and tasting coffee from dawn to dusk.

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Our trip had many facets. Trent and Jahn were participating for the first time and attended several roasting education and certification classes, and participated in a 20 team (200 total people) roasting challenge, which has been part of the retreat for the past 17 years.

I attended as part of the Roaster’s Guild Executive Council, which I was elected to earlier this year. In addition to council meetings and helping to ensure the event went smoothly, I was also responsible for membership outreach. With more than 1/3 of the attendees there for the first time, it was great to meet so many new people. I also participated in several educational sessions including a Peer to Peer review class with other roasting instructors to calibrate our teaching curriculum to the new international standard.

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This year,  the roasting tent was probably the largest that’s ever been set up anywhere in the world. 12 different manufacturers on hand with 21 different roasters for everyone to try. It was quite a collection, all housed in a 80 x 30 ft. tent with piped in A/C to offset the Georgia summer heat. Still, during the day, with all the roasters fired up, the temperature hovered in the mid 80’s inside the tent. (Before the A/C was in, we measured 106 on the floor and 142 at the top of the tent.)

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Trent and Jahn were both put on teams of 10 for the roasting challenge where they were given samples of coffees, then had to come up with a blend using those coffees over the next 36 hours. We held two separate sessions to score the coffee with over 200 people tasting. The first round scored each as a brewed cup of coffee. The second was scored at a formal coffee cupping. Lots of slurping and spitting. During each round, the scores were submitted digitally in real time so the results were available immediately. Jahn’s team took 2nd place in the brewed competition and Trent’s team took 2nd in the cupping portion. While neither of their teams took a top 3 spot in the combined challenge, I’m super proud of them for their efforts and team work at the event.

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After 6 days for me and 4 for the boys, we are back at work at MGC on Main St., putting our heads together looking for the small things we can do to make our coffee and workplace better. We all made some new connections with roasters from around the world. From coffee growers in China to scientists in Switzerland, the connections we make at these events become our resources for the future, and the friendships formed can often last a life time. We already can’t wait until next year!
 

Picking Coffee in Costa Rica

 Nic's pickings.

Nic's pickings.

Last week we had the opportunity to return to Hacienda La Minita in Costa Rica to visit a remarkable operation run by one of the coffee producers with whom we have worked closely over the years. Our goal was to experience, first hand, the effort required to grow and harvest La Minita coffee on the steep slopes of the Tarrazu Valley, to learn about their milling systems and processes, and to cup their newest offerings in order to purchase the high quality beans that we roast and serve here in Ann Arbor. Several changes have been made since we last visited including the purchase of an adjoining farm, La Pradera, where several micro lot coffees are being developed as well as facilities at the mill to manage these smaller, more exclusive coffees.

For the lowly coffee bean, this journey is relatively simple. For the many people involved in its journey from plantation to cup, it’s a tremendous amount of work.

The journey begins at the end of the rainy season in early Spring, when the coffee trees flower and the fruit begins to form. Bathed in sunlight, nurtured by the crisp clear mountain air which is warm in the day and cool at night, the dense green fruit appears at the buds the fallen flowers have left behind. Farm workers are busy during this time, weeding the spaces between the trees by hand and pruning branches that may have been damaged in the off season.

As Fall approaches, the coffee cherries ripen and turn a deep shade of red, signifying it’s time to pick. Many of the coffee pickers and their families travel throughout the region, moving from south to north as coffee ripens. At the peak of harvest, from early January to mid-February, more than 500 people will comb the farm, moving from the lower elevation at the Tarrazu river working their way up the mountain, picking only the ripe fruit. This process is repeated daily and weekly, from the bottom to the top of the hills and mountains, following the ever-ripening fruit, ensuring each is picked at the prime time and all branches are left bare.

La Minita felt it was important for us to live a moment in the life of a harvester. We were each given the traditional basket to wear around our waist and we were taught to pick coffee for an hour straight - the fastest of us only picked a half basket. We took our harvest to the pick up area where the coffee was measured by volume and we were paid for our efforts. After we were paid, the rest of the real workers unloaded their efforts, easily 10-15 times as much fruit as we had picked. We boarded the coffee truck and drove a short way to another collection station where all the smaller trucks were unloading into a semi-trailer. Later that evening, we went to the mill to witness the unloading and initial processing.

After milling, washing and sorting the fruit by density, sometime between 7 pm and midnight, the coffee goes into large outdoor tanks to ferment for up to 24 hours. This allows the remaining pulp to decompose and be washed away, leaving only the parchment which will be allowed to dry on the beans before the the final milling, sorting, and bagging.

While all milled coffee goes through a final sort for imperfections just prior to bagging using a machine that scans a stream of beans moving at the speed of light, the most select coffees are sorted once more by a room full of women, who literally evaluate every single bean by hand.

Currently, the coffee we picked is somewhere in the fermenting process, and if we did a good job of picking, those beans will makes their way into one of the most select coffees offered from the farm and we'll be drinking it sometime this spring.